(BPT) - Life is busy. Between school, family activities and the daily hustle and bustle, sometimes it seems enough just to keep up with your child’s doctor appointments, homework and other obligations. But there may be one vital thing you should consider moving to the top of your to-do list: scheduling a comprehensive eye exam for your child.
While you may not be aware that your child is having issues with their vision, the truth is you may not notice there is a problem until it has progressed — and is much less treatable. That is often the case with myopia, also known as nearsightedness, which is the inability to see things clearly unless they are relatively close to your eyes, and the most common vision disease among children. Myopia in children is chronic and can lead to more serious eye diseases down the line, if not treated early.
The good news is there are now new treatment options available — beyond conventional glasses and contacts — that weren’t around when you were a kid. These options can help slow down the progression of myopia and limit the disease’s impact on your child’s vision when introduced early.
"Thanks to advances in eye care, new treatment options have been developed for myopia in children that can really make a difference," said Dr. Millicent Knight, senior vice president, Customer Development Group at Essilor of America, "but early treatment is the key. You may not notice your child has vision issues, but an eye doctor can spot diseases like myopia before they progress and potentially lead to serious eye problems later in life."
Here are three reasons why scheduling an eye exam for your child now is so important.
1. Myopia is growing at a rapid rate, with one in three children affected today
Many researchers believe the growing problem of myopia in children may be partly due to:
- Reduced outdoor time
- Too much time spent doing close-up work
- Increased screen time on electronic devices
Genetics can also play a role in myopia, so if you or an immediate family member currently have the disease, your children may be at an increased risk.
If your child has never received an eye exam, or if it’s been over a year since their last one, it's a good idea to schedule an appointment today.
2. Myopia is now treatable, especially when addressed early
There are many treatment options available for children with myopia today that go beyond just standard eyeglasses and contact lenses. If your child is diagnosed with myopia, ask your child’s eye doctor about new treatment options that can help slow the progression of myopia.
3. Vision is crucial to a child’s success in school — and their future
Myopia may be a disease you’re not aware of until it has progressed significantly. It often leads to a child struggling in school and having difficulties in other activities due to poor vision, as well as increased serious eye disease risks. Making sure your child has good eye health and addressing problems right away can give you peace of mind.
The Global Myopia Awareness Coalition offers advice for parents to help prevent vision problems:
- Limit screen time. As difficult as it is when everyone's social lives, work and study have moved online, try to limit screen time as appropriate for your child's age. It also helps to keep electronic devices out of children's bedrooms.
- Take breaks. Schedule regular breaks away from devices — this goes for parents, too! Encourage your child to engage in different activities during their breaks, including physical activity.
- Get outside. Spending more time outside can be healthier for everyone's eyes, as well as their entire bodies. Need to keep children entertained? Create obstacle courses, relay races or scavenger hunts to keep kids outdoors longer.
"Getting children involved in a variety of activities that take them away from screens is much better for their eyes in the long run," said Dr. Knight. "And regular comprehensive eye exams will also help detect vision problems sooner, if there are any."
For more information about myopia and treatment options, visit AllAboutVision.com/GMAC.